Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The baking just got serious

My baking has reached a new level over the past week. Well, sort of. My following instructions, ingredients weighing and dough shaping has shifted from the home to a work place. Instead of doing it in small quantities for me and my family, I've been at the Bramhall Bakery learning how to make vast amounts of bread to sell to the general public. I'm gonna have some strong arms by the end of this experience.

Cross section of the 8 grain bloomer
So, test baking started last Thursday. I was eased in and asked to come in over the afternoon. Breads tested included white, 8 grain and granary. I missed mixing the doughs but was there in time to help with a little bit of shaping. So far, shaping hasn't exactly been my strong point. I got taught a new technique involving knuckling the dough back, folding, rolling and shaping... and watched with my mouth slightly ajar at the speed that Scott, the bread- making machine behind this new bakery, managed to shape the dough. I didn't manage anything nearly so fast and struggled a little getting a nice final shape... a few of my bloomers ended up resembling dog bones. But still, first day; I'll get plenty more practice. This first day of test baking of course included a bit of sampling. Personal favourite of that day; the 8 grain.

Time to tinker with some loaf tins
I was back for a second afternoon at the bakery the following day (after a morning that involved blue food colouring paste going everywhere... I was unimpressed). Scott had been doing more baking since and a sourdough mixed up the previous day hadn't developed quite right, so it was time for a bit more feeding for another attempt later. Some poolishes mixed up the day before and left to develop got turned out, shaped and baked. We got to have a bit of a play with the new loaf tins. And we started experimenting with some tray bakes, which involved me taking some of my food-colouring-related aggression out on a lot of digestive biscuits.

The olive sourdough made a nice starter when I went
round to a friend's house after a day in the bakery
I was in my more mundane work over the weekend so missed out on the test baking then, but I was back in on Monday, this time doing 9-5. We did a bit more work with poolishes, including a rye dough that we turned into a bloomer. Scott had had a breakthrough with the sourdough over the weekend and so we had another go, this time incorporating some delicious and rather huge olives. We also broke out some spelt flour... both of us a bit blind on this one, as Scott hadn't worked with it much and I'd only worked with twice at home. I missed this one being baked but Scott said it was a success and would be a great addition to the range of breads sold. I did, however, leave at just the right time to nab some olive sourdough straight out of the oven and it was definitely worth the wait.

The fresh bread, displayed and ready for the
customers. The display didn't stay intact for long!
And finally, Tuesday... opening day! Scott eased me in with my first proper bake day by getting me to start at 5 am (put into perspective, the builders were still working at 1 am and Scott just plain didn't leave...). Strolling down the road early in the morning, all I could hear was a chorus of birdsong, which I took as a good omen. I arrived to find Scott well on the way with baking and got stuck in with shaping, scaling and mixing. At one stage, this involved emptying a whole 16kg bag of white bread flour into the mixer. We did our best to fill the brand-spanking-new display baskets with delicious bread and, after customers started trickling in from about 9 am, we had a veritable flood of bread seekers by lunch time. The range included a few savouries such as Marmite and cheese scrolls, tomato chutney and cheese scrolls and sausage rolls (with sausage meat from the butchers next door. Great bit of local collaboration, but bloomin' difficult to pipe). And so, by 1.30 pm, the shop was back to looking a little bare and the resident of Bramhall were tucking into fresh bread baked that day.

1.30 was also the time that I got released and so I headed home with the loaf of bread that I'd managed to cadge before they all disappeared (a nice bit of 8 grain, although I'm sure I'll gradually work my way through the rest of the range). My bread got chomped alongside some soup for my lunch (and our chilli later as well actually...) and... well, it wasn't too long before I was caught napping. 

No bakery tomorrow as I'm in college but I'll be back in on Thursday. Another early start, but lots more bread to look forward to!

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